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Warm Audio Warm Bender

Warm Audio Warm Bender

When fuzzboxes first began to appear in the mid‑1960s (starting with the Gibson Maestro), UK engineer Gary Hurst came out with his own take on the effect and called it the Tone Bender. His design went through a couple of revisions. Warm Audio have now built a pedal called the Warm Bender that offers both those versions along with a third ‘silicon’ transistor setting to give the user three distinctive fuzz voicings.

The first Tone Benders were housed in wedge‑shaped enclosures but the Tone Bender was also produced by Sola Sound, who used the pressed metal base of a wah pedal as their enclosure. Housed in a pedal that seems to combine aspects of both the wedge and Sola Sound shapes, the Warm Bender has controls for Attack (drive) and Level but, as with the original, there’s no tone control. The input and output jacks are joined by a PSU input (battery power is also supported) and there’s a slide switch called Sag that mimics a fading battery by dropping the power to 6V — users of the original often preferred the sound when the battery was starting to die! Another nicety not found on the original is a status LED, as the invention of low‑cost LEDs was still a few years in the future at that time.

Warm Audio Warm BenderA rotary switch selects between the three versions. The MkI Tone Bender uses NOS 76 (1x OC76 and 1x SFT337 transistors), and these early Tone Bender sounds clean up well when the guitar volume control is backed off. They can recreate many of the ’60s fuzz sounds, though I didn’t find a setting quite raspy enough to nail the sax‑like ‘Satisfaction’ sound or Jeff Beck playing ‘Heart Full Of Soul’ with the Yardbirds, without first adding more treble on the amp. It has lower gain than the MkII but retains the overall tonal balance of the input pretty well and cleans up nicely when the guitar volume is backed off.

The next setting has noticeably more gain, more low end and uses NOS 75 (3x OC75 transistors) to recreate the MkII tone. This is a very punchy sound with a lot of warmth. Producing a generally tighter sound, a smooth distortion tone at lower gains and more grit at higher gains, the Silicon setting offers a very useful alternative voice.

Bringing in the Sag control to recreate the dying battery adds a tangible sense of compression.

Bringing in the Sag control to recreate the dying battery adds a tangible sense of compression in all three modes and when the guitar volume is backed off, it tends to bring in extra harmonics, reminiscent of a subtle octave fuzz. In the case of the Silicon mode, when the guitar volume is backed off and the Sag switch is on, the decay of the notes also tails off in an authentically unnatural way. There’s a slight level drop when using Sag too, but the Level control has way more than enough range to make up for that.


Overall then, if you’re a fan of the Tone Bender era of fuzz sounds, this little pedal covers them all and then some. I sometimes wished for a tone control, but I suppose the aim here is to exactly duplicate those old Tone Bender sounds, and if one was added the pedal would no longer be authentic.


£209 including VAT.

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